The Journey Is Complete.
The Tampa Bay History Center grew out of a Historical Museum Task Force created by Hillsborough County’s Commissioners in 1986. The History Center’s mission is to educate visitors about the important history that has shaped and continues to shape the Tampa Bay area. Today, the History Center provides quality historical and educational services and programs. The beneficiaries are the region’s three million permanent residents and more than 15 million annual visitors.
The History Center obtained a $17-million commitment of Community Investment Tax (CIT) funds from Hillsborough County’s Commissioners in 1998. The City of Tampa, together with the Florida Communities Trust, made available a 2.4-acre waterfront site in downtown Tampa on which the museum now sits.
An academic partnership has been established by the History Center with the University of South Florida - funded by a $4-million endowment ($2 million from History Center private sector donors and $2 million in matching funds from the State of Florida). The endowment’s income underwrites public education programs and activities designed jointly by the History Center and the Florida Studies Center based at the USF Library. Other education partners include the Hillsborough County School District, the Tampa/Hillsborough County Public Library System, the University of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College.
The History Center building, located near the historically important Fort Brooke reservation (the birthplace of modern Tampa), contains 60,000 square feet of exhibits depicting almost 500 years of recorded history and 12,000 years of human habitation in this region. Native Americans and Spanish conquistadors, pioneer settlers and cigar workers, immigrants and cowboys, military and sports heroes, and entrepreneurs and workers - white, black, Hispanic, Jewish, urban, rural, old, young - have all contributed to our “sense of place.” Schoolchildren, residents and Tampa Bay visitors will feel, sense and discover these life stories in ways meaningful to their families and to contemporary society.
The use of modern museum technology highlights countless artifacts. Parent-child learning opportunities abound through permanent and changing exhibitions. More than 40,000 items are already in the History Center’s collections. Undoubtedly, thousands more will be added as individuals and families become aware that, after too many decades without a community history museum, there is a respected and well-financed repository for this area’s artifacts.
The History Center is an important participant in a successful public-private partnership with Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the local education community and the private sector. This civic coalition has established a major cultural institution that serves students and other residents of the Tampa Bay area while also being a destination attraction for an active tourism industry.
The Tampa Bay History Center is a 501(C)(3) non-profit corporation and is funded in part by: Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, The City of Tampa and The State of Florida Division of Historic Resources.